Time to reassess – post-pandemic style for older women

Annabel and I recently received an email from Wendy Cecil, which gives us an insight into her interesting life and positive attitude. We thought you’d be interested to read what she has to say, particular her views on post-pandemic style for older women…

I write as a regular reader who really enjoys your on-line magazine. Even though some fashion articles can be complicated to order from Britain for shipment to my home in Toronto, Canada, that hasn’t stopped me from making some long-distance purchases. I think the two of you are terrific – honest, upbeat, cheerful and wise. You are unafraid to take on the various issues of ageing, but you do so with delightful humour and gratitude that we are still here and kicking! 

I’ll be 73 in November, am very active physically (walking about 80 miles a week) and still holding leadership positions in my community. I hope to go on being this way for some time to come – and looking at least half decent as I do so!  

As a divorcee of more than 22 years, with 3 children now in their mid to early thirties and four grandchildren 5 years old and under, I find your on-line magazine a real delight. Vogue and the other magazines I subscribed to over many years, rarely contribute to my life now as their focus does not apply to my life – even though I still love to stay current. 

Over the past 18 months the pandemic has necessitated that many of us work and socialise from home. Among my volunteer positions – including the Royal Canadian Navy, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Toronto Public Library, The University of Toronto, Branksome Hall Asia School for Girls in South Korea and so on, I also each Business Ethics to first year students at the University of Toronto. My many colleagues in these different sectors and I have all found we’ve been doing everything online, so we’ve been dressing to be seen only from the waist up! When we re-open, this must change! 

But the pandemic and reduced activity has given the gift of time. So completely re-organising one’s home – and especially one’s wardrobe and clothes closet – has been a big project. We are all radically trimming things from our closets that haven’t been worn in a few years (or many years) and we are looking to see what “the new me” will want to wear when things return to normal.

Despite everything still fitting, and garments still being in good shape, it has been time to reassess. I expect many other women are in the same boat. We are two years older than we were when we last wore those clothes – so will we really want to climb back into them? Probably not! It isn’t really about fashion but rather who we want to be and how we want to look when the world re-opens…

I have been finding it quite personally fulfilling to do this. I’ve been giving things away like mad – and they’ve been gratefully received.

I will be thoughtful about new purchases, especially now that I’ve gone “au naturel” and allowed my grey hair to grow in. Now that a rim of silver frames my face – different colours in clothing and make-up are more flattering. Again, I know many women who have done this over the pandemic – which has been a perfect time to grow in grey hair and see how it looks. What’s more, it is so nice to be freed from the tyranny of colouring one’s hair every 6-8 weeks! Hairdressers were closed, so my daughter began cutting my shoulder length hair for me – and I love my chin-length bob now, whether swinging free or in a pony tail. Of course this is is one more thing calling for a new look – and some new clothes! 

My dearest friend – who lives in New York, is tall, slender, blonde-haired & blue eyed – of Danish background. She was an incredibly gorgeous stunner in her youth and is still quite lovely. But, whenever she frets over what to wear to an event or how she looks, I remind her that nobody is really looking all that closely at her now anyway, so she should just relax and dress to please and enjoy herself!

At our age, our primary sartorial responsibilities are 1. to avoid embarrassing our children or ourselves with our choices and 2. to look presentable enough that we can feel comfortable.

If we do that, we can smile and really mean it!  Remembering that right NOW is probably the best we will ever again look, helps a lot! We have to get over ourselves, don’t we?

Warmest regards,

Dr. Wendy M. Cecil, CM, HonCapt(N)
Chancellor Emerita, Victoria University in the University of Toronto

More fascinating views and personal stories from guest contributors can be read here.

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susan mulholland
1 year ago

Loved this article. Much inspired by Wendy Cecil. Brains and beauty – hope I am that good at 73!

1 year ago

Thank you for such an interesting and well-written article. I stopped colouring my hair several years ago and so I didn’t suffer the trauma that many women did during lockdown. I used to have dark brown hair and wore a lot of brown and peachy tones. As my hair colour changed I found I was unconsciously buying more grey and navy clothes and reaching for my browns less and less. I finally gave them all away to be enjoyed by someone else and try to keep to a colour paletted I know I’m happy with.
It was by reading A&G that I discovered Colour Theory which is a fascinating subject. I feel that I am now bolder but more selective in my clothing choices and dress to make myself happy. There is a radiance that comes when you are comfortable in your own skin that make-up is hard pushed to replicate.

Anne Manson
1 year ago

What a great read

1 year ago

Lovely email, Wendy, and you look beautiful! x